The Ultimate Diamond Buying Guide

If you’re in the market for a new piece of diamond jewelry, you might be wondering where to start. Buying diamonds can be an intimidating process, and it can take time to find the perfect gem. Though it is a major decision, buying a diamond doesn’t have to be stressful! By learning the diamond buying process, you’ll know how to find quality diamonds at a price that works for your budget.

Whether you’re buying your first or fifth piece of diamond jewelry, this guide includes helpful tips to ensure you are well-informed about the process so you can be confident about your purchase.

How to Choose a Diamond

Before you purchase a diamond, you need to narrow down your list of options. There are a wide variety of diamonds available in every possible size, shape, and color.

You’ll likely start by deciding on a budget, which will determine how much you can spend on a gem (and what quality and size you can afford). You’ll then need to choose a diamond style—but before you can do that, you need to understand the 4 Cs.

What Are the 4 Cs of Diamond Quality?

Because every diamond is unique, they each have specific characteristics that establish its quality and value. To make it easier to evaluate the quality and value of a diamond, GIA, the leading authority on gems, developed the first global standard of diamond assessment. They called this method the 4 Cs of Diamond Quality. The 4 Cs of Diamond Quality are:

  • Cut
  • Color
  • Clarity
  • Carat Weight

By grading diamonds against the 4 Cs criteria, it’s much easier for buyers (and sellers) to understand exactly what kind of diamond they’re purchasing.

Buying a Diamond with the 4 Cs Method

The simplest way to choose a diamond is to follow the 4 Cs method in order: find a Cut you like, then find a diamond with good Color and Clarity, and finally, select a Carat weight that falls within your budget range.

Understanding Cut Quality

Cut quality reigns supreme when it comes to buying diamonds. Many people think a diamond's cut refers to its shape (e.g. round, oval, pear, heart, princess), but it’s a bit more complex than that. A diamond’s cut actually refers to how well a diamond’s facets interact with light. That sounds complicated, but a cut grade will basically tell you how bright and sparkly a diamond is. Diamonds with low cut grades will often appear glassy and dull, while diamonds with high cut grades will be sparkly and beautiful.

Many jewelers rely on the GIA Diamond Cut Scale to rate diamonds from Excellent to Poor, but some jewelers use independent grading systems and may use their own terminology for diamond cut quality.

We recommend focusing on diamonds that land on the higher end of the cut grade spectrum when browsing gems. Otherwise, no matter what carat weight you choose, you run the risk of getting a dull diamond.

What Diamond Shape Should I Choose?

You may have noticed that diamond shape isn’t included in the GIA diamond grading criteria. Round diamonds are the most popular diamond on the market, and jewelers use round diamonds as a baseline for all diamond grading criteria. However, there are lots of diamond shapes you can choose from, including:

  • Princess
  • Cushion
  • Heart
  • Pear
  • Marquise
  • Radiant
  • Asscher
  • Emerald
  • Oval

These shapes are known as fancy shape diamonds. Fancies sometimes cost less than round diamonds because they can’t always be graded on the same scale. They also tend to appear larger than their round diamond counterparts, which can make them appealing options for buyers who want the most bang for their buck.

Determining Diamond Color and Clarity

Diamonds are found in a range of colors from colorless to light yellow. A diamond’s color actually refers to its absence of color—a high-quality diamond should be entirely colorless, almost like a drop of water. A diamond’s color makes a big difference in its quality and price, so it’s important to consider a diamond’s color grade when examining it.

Diamonds also vary in clarity, which refers to a diamond’s appearance and how many flaws it has. They’re graded from IF (Internally Flawless) to VVS1-2 (Very Very Slightly Included), VS1–2 (Very Slightly Included), SI1 (Slightly Included), and then the lower grades. “Inclusions” refer to internal flaws that negatively impact light performance. Generally, any diamonds above SI1 will appear flawless to the naked eye.

How to Choose a Carat Weight

Carat weight refers to how much a gem weighs. Larger carat weights are more expensive because larger diamonds are rarer and more desirable. However, two diamonds of the same carat weight can have very different prices based on the other 3 Cs (cut, color, and clarity). Choosing a carat weight depends on what your budget is—just make sure you’re taking the other 3 Cs into consideration as well.

Should I Buy Natural or Lab-Grown Diamonds?

There are two types of diamonds: natural (mined) diamonds and lab-grown (man-made) diamonds. Both types are chemically, physically, and optically identical. Lab-grown diamonds have become a popular choice in recent years because many people consider them the more ethical, sustainable alternative to mined diamonds.

Lab-grow mb-5n diamonds are also more affordable than natural diamonds. However, natural diamonds are rarer and retain their value better over time. Ultimately, the decision is entirely up to you!

How to Find the Right Jeweler

Buying a diamond is a major decision, and it’s not always easy for the untrained eye to choose the best gem. That’s why it’s important to find a jeweler you trust who has the skills, expertise, and experience to help you make the right choice.

Here are some things to consider when searching for a jeweler:

  • Does the jeweler have a storefront, or is it online only?
  • Is the jeweler credentialed?
  • Does the jeweler have a positive reputation in your community? Have they been in business for a long time?
  • Do you want a personalized shopping experience?
  • Is the jeweler a member of any professional associations?
  • What sort of relationships does the jeweler have with their clients? Do they have repeat customers?

Finding a jeweler you trust will make the diamond buying process much easier, and will ensure you have a knowledgeable, reliable expert to consult for any future purchases.

Consider Shopping With a Jewelry Appraiser

In addition to online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores, you can also shop with a retailer that buys, sells, and appraises precious gems. These businesses often offer the same services as traditional retailers, but you’ll be getting a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry at a great price. Buying pre-owned diamond jewelry is an affordable, environmentally friendly option. You’ll also know you’re purchasing a gem that can withstand the test of time since the retailer will have already verified the quality of the diamond when they purchased it. Plus, you might end up with a diamond that has a rich history behind it!

Additional Tips for Buying Diamonds

You’ve chosen your jeweler. You found the perfect diamond in your desired shape that meets the 4 Cs criteria. But before you purchase your diamond, here are a few tips:

  • Compare your options. Make sure you compare a few different gem options before making a final decision.
  • Ask your jeweler for a professional diamond certification. This will ensure you’re getting an authentic, high-quality gem.
  • Always, always, always see the gem in person before you buy. Unless you’re purchasing a diamond from an online retailer, it’s critical to see a gem in person so you know exactly what you’re getting.
  • Ask your jeweler about post-sale services. See if your jeweler provides additional services like warranties, annual polishes, ring resizing, and other helpful offerings.

Visit the Diamond Experts at Conrad Jewelry

If you’re looking to buy or sell diamonds, we invite you to visit us at Conrad Jewelry. We are a local, family-owned business that’s been serving the Tampa Bay area for more than two decades. Our family of jewelry experts values our customers above all else.

Contact Conrad Jewelry today to schedule a consultation or make an appointment to visit our showroom and see the one-of-a-kind pieces we have available for purchase.

Depending on the occasion, buying a diamond might be one of the most significant purchases of your life. Being well-informed about the process will help you make a confident purchase, so you can relax and enjoy the search!